Metro

A shining new YMCA to rise in Lynn

Amanda Mena, 16, kicked off Friday’s ceremony by singing “God Bless America.”
Suzanne Kreiter/Globe Staff
Amanda Mena, 16, kicked off Friday’s ceremony by singing “God Bless America.”

LYNN — Sporting blue YMCA shirts and yellow plastic hard hats, dozens of youngsters joined Governor Charlie Baker and Mayor Thomas M. McGee to break ground Friday on a $30 million YMCA that promises to bring a healthy glow to downtown Lynn.

The glass-and-skylit building will stand in the heart of the “educational district” that also includes Lynn Vocational Technical High School, St. Mary’s High School, and Washington STEM Elementary School. Kipp Academy, a charter school, is building a high school nearby.

The nearly 70,000-square-foot Y building will feature expanded preschool classrooms, and unique science, technology, engineering, arts, and math programming for youngsters in its neighboring schools and adults, officials said.

Advertisement

“This neighborhood is about to change in a dramatic way,” said Bruce Macdonald, the president and chief executive officer of the YMCA of Metro North, of which the Lynn facility is a branch.

Get Metro Headlines in your inbox:
The 10 top local news stories from metro Boston and around New England delivered daily.
Thank you for signing up! Sign up for more newsletters here

The new Y, which is expected to be open in early 2020, will also feature a family aquatic center, preschool child care, an enhanced music recording studio, and a rooftop garden, among other amenities.

Sixteen-year-old Amanda Mena said the new Y will make a big differences in people’s lives. When she was 8, she joined the Y’s music/recording studio program. Last summer, the aspiring vocalist finished in the semifinals on NBC’s “America’s Got Talent.’’

She kicked off Friday’s ceremony by singing “God Bless America.”

“Even just this Y had a huge impact,” said Mena, a student at St. Mary’s, referring to the current Y. “I’ve already seen what it can do.”

Advertisement

Ethel Leonard, 97, of Peabody, also knows firsthand how a Y can shape a life. She was working at the Huntington Avenue YMCA in Boston when she met her husband in 1945.

“I think [it] is going to be another wonderful place for young people to go — not just to exercise, but to be involved,” said Leonard, who has donated to the new Y.

A fund-raising campaign led by Lynn businessman Tom Demakes has raised $10 million in private donations from area businesses and individuals. Federal tax credits available for development in low-income areas, state bonds and a $4.8 million MassWorks grant are also part of the financing, officials said.

The MassWorks grant has been used for infrastructure improvements, including relocating utility lines and reconstructing streets for the building that is going up in front of the current Y on Neptune Street.

“It is a great example of how when you put a whole bunch of people together who share a vision, and appreciate the opportunity represented by this project, you get really great things done,” Baker said, his voice battling wind gusts and the sound of cars driving by. “I can’t wait to come back, and see this upon its completion.”

Advertisement

A total of $22 million is already in hand for the project, with the rest to be covered through a bond from MassDevelopment, the state’s real estate financing agency. The Y hopes to raise another $5 million to $8 million in private donations to lessen the cost of bond payments, Macdonald said.

McGee said the development will help transform Lynn, one of the state’s largest and most diverse cities.

“I know the members that have been a part of this YMCA have envisioned a beautiful new YMCA for a long time,” said McGee, a Y member whose wife sits on the board of directors. “We are very excited to see this happen.”

Kathy McCabe of the Globe staff contributed. Alejandro Serrano can be reached at alejandro.serrano@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter@AlejandroSerrano.